ORONO, Maine — If the University of Maine athletic department hopes to field more competitive teams during a somewhat tumultuous time in Division I college athletics, it is going to need a little help.
Toward that end, UMaine has begun the search for a senior associate athletic director.
“Structurally, it’s so clear that we’re missing this slot,” said UMaine Athletic Director Steve Abbott. “It’s a significant position and it’s something that will help us as we continue to try to elevate the department.”
The job, which has not yet been advertised outside the university, will provide the department with another administrator to complement Abbott’s efforts.
“They’ll be No. 2 in the organization and they’ll be involved in everything, but with a partial focus on operational details and financial issues, both incoming and outgoing,” he said. “It will help facilitate the work that the people are doing.”
UMaine has formed a three-person committee to conduct the search. It includes director of budget and business services Claire Strickland, NCAA faculty representative Bob Strong and senior advisor to the president Julie Hopwood.
The committee will forward the names of viable candidates to Abbott and he will make a recommendation to UMaine President Paul Ferguson, who has the final word.
Abbott, who said the job was not created with anyone particular in mind, hopes to have it filled by the start of the school year in September.
The position will pay approximately $100,000 per year, making it the second-highest paid administrative position in the department. Abbott earns $140,000 annually.
Abbott concedes he is a key beneficiary of the move and explained the successful candidate must bring a variety of skills to the job.
“They will be a very experienced hand, somebody who really understands trends in college athletics and who understands not only the athletic mission but the academic mission and the role that the university plays in the state,” Abbott said.
Duties likely will include budget issues involving the teams and developing ways to maximize revenue through games, parking, concessions and apparel sales.
“The goal is to free up my time to work on some of the things where I think I could contribute more,” said Abbott, who included fundraising and marketing among his areas of emphasis.
UMaine has not had a senior associate athletic director since Blake James held the job from 2003-2006. However, budget constraints at the time prevented James from filling the vacancy when he became the AD.
Abbott said having a right-hand person will reduce competing demands for his time and enable the department to increase the efficiency of its operations because answers and decision-making often will come more quickly.
Even though adding the job means a significant expense for the department, Abbott sees it as necessary. He praised Ferguson for his vision in making it happen.
“Really, the decision came with the tremendous support of the president, who ultimately believed that this position will greatly enhance our ability to operate,” Abbott said.
“The point of reducing our budget was to operate as efficiently as possible,” Abbott said, “but it has affected our ability to generate revenue because of the time it has taken away from other people in our department.”
UMaine’s eight-member athletic department administrative staff also includes Associate AD for Internal Operations Will Biberstein, Associate AD for External Operations Joe Roberts, Associate AD for Compliance/Senior Woman Administrator Eileen Flaherty, Assistant AD for Business Sue Randall, Assistant AD for Public Relations Laura Reed, Assistant AD for Development Mike Hodgson and Director of Academic Support Ann Maxim.